EPA chief flew on private and military aircraft for official business

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In July, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt flew on a private plane for official travel in his home state of Oklahoma - leaving taxpayers on the hook for more than $14,000.

Thousands more pages of emails from his time as Oklahoma's attorney general, released earlier this year after the Center for Media and Democracy sued for them to be made public, detailed an often-chummy relationship between Pruitt's office and Devon Energy, a major oil and gas exploration and production company based in Oklahoma City.

The EPA confirmed to CNN Wednesday that Pruitt used a private plane and military jet to travel for government duties instead of flying commercial for trips over the summer. She did, however, tell The Washington Post that Pruitt usually flies commercial and that the private flights stemmed from unusual circumstances, including flight delays.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to the EPA's inspector general on Tuesday asking for the agency watchdog to review Pruitt's use of non-commercial flights, according to the Washington Post.

In June, the EPA spent about $36,000 to fly Pruitt and three staffers from Cincinnati to NY on a military plane so that they could catch a flight to Italy for meetings with environmental ministers.

The Enivronmental Protection Agency is reportedly spending close to $25,000 on a soundproof phone booth in Administrator Scott Pruitt's office.

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On August 4 Pruitt and his staff took a private air charter from Denver to Durango, Colorado at a cost of $5,719.

A spokesman for the EPA told CNN that the use of the military plane was necessary "due to logistical obstacles and the need to schedule meetings with the Vatican before the G7 Summit". The agency did not specify what aspects of that facility were outdated, or whether the unit inside Pruitt's office would meet the physical and technical specifications a SCIF generally is required to have.

The EPA already has a SCIF in a separate area of the building, the Post reported, and it's unclear if Pruitt believes that it is out of date or somehow insufficient.

Liz Purchia, the former head of communications at EPA, told CNN the expenditure is "the height of paranoia".

Reports of Pruitt's travel expenses by private jet came hours after President Trump said he is "not happy" with Tom Price's use of private planes for government business. The cost to taxpayers was $2,144.40, according to an EPA spokesperson, who said the governor's office offered use of the plane and arranged the flight. Such 24/7 coverage has prompted officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes.

"As someone who spent a lot of time in the administrator's office, I can tell you that there was nothing like this previously".

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